Accounting Degree Overview for Utah

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Founded by Mormon pioneers and still 60% Mormon today, Utah leads the nation in charitable giving. Also known for natural wonders — like Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon, and Great Salt Lake — Utah has served as the setting for many Western films and shows. The state’s hot, dry climate often ranges from 85-100°F during summer months. Utah winters get extremely cold, and high elevation areas feature excellent snowfall for winter sports.

Several Utah schools offer associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral accounting degree programs for students seeking lucrative business and financial occupations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects these total jobs in this field to increase 7% from 2018 to 2028. These professionals made a median annual wage of $69,820 in 2019 — $30,000 above the $39,810 median salary for all occupations.

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Utah’s booming economy provides promising employment opportunities for accounting degree graduates. The BLS projects various accounting-related careers to grow 28-32% over the next decade. These include accountants and auditorscost estimators, and personal financial advisors. Read on for more about Utah’s economy, careers, and education opportunities.

UTAH EDUCATION STATISTICS

ACCOUNTING CAREERS IN UTAH

VIEW UTAH COLLEGES

UTAH AT A GLANCE

POPULATION3,282,120
PER CAPITA INCOME$29,756
FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES3
NUMBER OF HIGHER LEARNING INSTITUTIONS36
CLIMATEAverage Annual Temperature: 48.6 ℉
Annual Precipitation: 12.2 inches
MAJOR SPORTS TEAMSUtah Jazz, Real Salt Lake, Utah Royals FC, Utah Warriors
ACCOUNTANTS IN UTAH10,250

Top Utah Schools for Accounting

  • University of Utah
  • Brigham Young University-Provo
  • Westminster College
  • Utah State University
  • Utah Valley University
  • Weber State University
  • Dixie State University

WHY GO TO COLLEGE FOR ACCOUNTING IN UTAH?

Utah contains eight public universities and colleges, several of which offer accounting programs. The state’s public accounting schools include University of Utah, Weber State University, Dixie State University, and Utah State University. Boasting the nation’s lowest student debt rates in the 2013-14 school year, in-state tuition for Utah’s public universities averages just $5,660 per academic year.

Utah also boasts unusually inexpensive private schools, with tuition rates averaging around $7,550. Private schools with accounting programs include Brigham Young University (BYU) at Provo and Westminster College. BYU’s Marriott School of Management offers Utah’s most prestigious accounting program, and the University of Utah and Utah State University also rank highly.

Most of Utah’s accounting schools cluster in the state’s northern half, near Salt Lake City, Logan, and Ogden. Utah students who live elsewhere in the state often take courses online — in fact, over half of Utah students participate in distance learning. However, keep in mind that some online programs do include residency requirements. Moreover, in-person courses can help with networking.

Utah’s graduation rate sits at just 47.1% for enrollees at four-year, public colleges and universities. However, the state’s schools maintain a fairly high freshman-to-sophomore year retention rate (69%) compared to schools in neighboring states.

Education Statistics for Utah

The educational statistics below indicate that Utah boasts a reasonably educated population despite housing just 36 colleges. Close to half (43.1%) of Utah residents hold at least an associate degree, compared to the 39.9% national average. Utah falls slightly below the national average for graduate degree-holders, so earning an accounting master’s degree may make graduates even more competitive for upper-level positions. Utah devotes 7.8% of its tax revenues to higher education, putting the state 2% above the national average.

UTAH DATANATIONAL DATA
Number of Four-Year Colleges333,004
Number of Two-Year Colleges31,579
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education55.7%34.7%
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student$7,688$8,196
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education7.8%5.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree9.8%8.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor’s Degree22%19.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher11.3%12.1%
Sources: NCESSHEEOU.S. Census Bureau – American Community Survey

Accreditation for Utah Schools

Utah’s top accounting schools typically maintain institutional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). One of the Council of Higher Education’s seven approved regional accrediting agencies, the NWCCU currently accredits 162 higher education institutions in the northwestern states.

Regional accreditation entails a voluntary evaluation process, performed under the supervision of agencies like NWCCU. These bodies assess schools’ various academic features, such as performance, resources, and curricula, making suggestions for improvement to ensure that students’ education meets rigorous standards of quality.

Regional accreditation generally warrants greater prestige than national accreditation because it is reserved for nonprofit academic institutions. National accreditation, on the other hand, is usually applied to for-profit institutions like vocational and religious schools. Enrollees at both nationally and regionally accredited schools can qualify for federal financial aid, but many regionally accredited schools only accept transfer credits and degrees from equivalently accredited institutions. Employers also tend to prefer candidates with degrees from regionally accredited schools.

CONSIDERATIONS FOR AN ACCOUNTING DEGREE IN UTAH

Picking the right accounting program necessitates thoughtful consideration. Prospective students’ learning styles, interests, career aspirations, and qualifications should influence these choices. Additional factors such as school size, location, and cost may also come into play.

The sections below sketch out these various school and program features to help prospective students decide whether to pursue an accounting degree in Utah. The page below discusses some promising degree types, program concentrations and formats, and funding options.

Accounting Degree Levels

Prospective accounting students should consider both short- and long-term educational goals when deciding where to begin their education journey. Regionally accredited schools only recognize degrees from other regionally accredited institutions, so students who plan to pursue advanced degrees should pursue their associate and bachelor’s degrees from appropriately certified schools.


  • Associate Degree in Accounting

    This degree typically requires about 60 credits and prepares graduates for clerking or bookkeeping jobs.

    Learn More


  • Bachelor's Degree in Accounting

    Requiring another 60 credits beyond the associate degree, an accounting bachelor’s degree can lead to jobs such as cost estimator and tax examiner.

    Learn More


  • Master's Degree in Accounting

    This degree traditionally takes about two years to complete, preparing graduates for jobs as accountants, auditors, or financial managers.

    Learn More


  • Ph.D. in Accounting

    Doctoral degrees take several years to finish, require original research, and often lead to teaching careers.

    Learn More


Accounting Concentration Options

Many Utah accounting programs offer several curriculum concentration choices, each of which combines core accounting and business courses with more specialized coursework related to a specific field or industry. Concentration options often include management accounting, financial accounting, taxation, and auditing. The following two concentrations, cost accounting and financial accounting, relate to several growing Utah career paths and therefore may benefit students planning to work in this state.

  • COST ACCOUNTING: Cost accounting focuses on analyzing and calculating costs for company processes and operations. Graduates may work as consultants, managers, and cost estimators.
  • FINANCIAL ACCOUNTING: This concentration focuses on external financial reporting, and covers tax law and financial statement analysis. Graduates often become financial or budget analysts, auditors, financial planners, or financial managers.

ACCOUNTING CONCENTRATIONS

On-Campus Versus Online Program Options

The majority of Utah students currently take at least some online courses. Several Utah accounting schools offer both online and on-campus programs, so prospective students should think carefully about which format best suits their needs and preferences. See below for an overview of the formats available.

On-Campus

Prospective students currently living or hoping to live in Salt Lake City may consider applying to the several on-campus programs available in this area. Utah’s on-campus accounting programs often provide more networking opportunities, extracurriculars, mentorship, and classroom structure than do online programs.

Online Programs

Often tailored to working students, online programs typically permit asynchronous attendance and participation. Focused, motivated, and efficient students often excel in online programs. Since online students can attend schools anywhere in the country, Utah’s online programs often serve diverse cohorts from across this state and beyond. Online programs also frequently save enrollees money via discounted tuition and reduced commuting and residency costs.

Hybrid Programs

Requiring only weekly, monthly, or once-per-semester trips to campus for in-person sessions, hybrid programs combine in-person benefits with online convenience. The frequency of the required on-campus visits depends largely on the program, so examine residency requirements carefully to ensure that you can afford the time and money required for these sessions.

PERCENTAGE OF STUDENTS ENROLLED IN DISTANCE EDUCATION

ENROLLED EXCLUSIVELY IN DISTANCE EDUCATION COURSESENROLLED IN SOME BUT NOT ALL DISTANCE EDUCATION COURSESNOT ENROLLED IN ANY DISTANCE EDUCATION COURSES
Utah Students40.2%15.5%44.2%
United States Students16.3%18.4%65.3%
Source: NCES

Paying for Your Accounting Degree

The tuition and fees data below suggests that Utah’s education costs compare favorably to many other states. However, many Utah students still seek financial aid such as grants, loans, scholarships, and fellowships. By filling out a FAFSA form, students may qualify for Department of Education grants, which need not be repaid, and/or federal loans, which students must start repaying upon graduation.

Prospective students also may qualify for scholarships based on identity, financial need, study field, or academic merit. Some Utah students may qualify for state-based grants and scholarships. Consult the links below to explore financial aid options.

FINANCIAL AID OPTIONS

ACCOUNTING SCHOLARSHIPS

AVERAGE COST OF COLLEGE TUITION AND FEES IN UTAH, 2017-2018

UTAHNATIONAL
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$6,557$9,037
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$20,168$25,657
Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year)$7,548$30,731
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$3,781$3,243
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$3,690$7,971
Source: NCES

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) tuition data above indicates that Utah higher education is rather affordable. In-state tuition averages just $6,557 at public four-year schools and just $3,781 at public two-year schools. Through reciprocity agreements such as the Western Undergraduate Exchange and the Western Regional Graduate Program, students from other Western states can qualify for discounted tuition in Utah.

Out-of-state tuition actually proves less expensive than in-state tuition at Utah’s public two-year schools. The average cost of private school tuition is also much lower than other states, coming in at just $7,548, compared to the national $30,731 average.

Utah’s Cost of Living

Cost of living also warrants consideration during prospective students’ education planning and budgeting processes. Utah scores 98.4 on the World Population Review‘s cost of living index — just slightly below the national average of 100. Housing and utilities subscores in Utah come in at 93.6 and 89.4, respectively, while transportation is higher than the national average with a score of 108.6.

Other School Selection Criteria

Additional school selection factors to consider include school size, resources, reputation, and alumni network. Prospective students should also note program length, student success resources, competitiveness, and outcomes data. See below for discussion of these additional selection criteria.

School Size

Some students prefer more intimate learning atmospheres, and in this realm smaller schools often excel. By contrast, larger schools typically offer more diverse options and opportunities for students.

University Resources/Career Services

Good accounting schools often have resources like research facilities, student support programs, and career services.

Prestige/Reputation

School reputation matters, and many prestigious schools enjoy national name recognition. However, lesser-known schools may still boast positive local reputations that can help graduates seeking jobs nearby.

Alumni Network

Schools and programs with wide alumni networks often prove advantageous to graduates seeking work.

Program Length

Program lengths vary widely, with accelerated programs sometimes taking just half the time that traditional programs do. Many schools allow students to enroll part time, which can be useful for students with job or family obligations, though part-time enrollment does increase overall program length.

Competitiveness

Top programs seek top students, so make sure that you meet the recommended criteria for admission before applying. Applying to some competitive schools and some safety schools often proves wise. Low acceptance rates signal highly competitive programs.

Outcomes Data

Consult program websites for student outcomes data such as graduation rates and post-graduation salaries.

EXPLORE OUR RANKINGS FOR THE BEST ACCOUNTING PROGRAMS AT EACH LEVEL

CAREERS FOR ACCOUNTING GRADUATES IN UTAH

National salary data and job growth projections for business and financial occupations, including accountant and auditor positions, suggest that accounting degree graduates may reasonably anticipate profitable, stable careers. Currently boasting the second-best state economy in the nation, Utah offers fortuitous job prospects for accounting and financial professionals.

U.S. News & World Report state economy rankings place Utah first in employment, fifth in business environment, and sixth in growth. Utah’s economy has relied heavily on ranching, mining, agriculture, and petroleum, but its growing industries today include aerospace and defense, information and health technologies, renewable resources, and natural products.

Some Utah accounting professionals work in major accounting firms, which cluster in Salt Lake City and other cities along the state’s Wasatch Front. Many Utah accounting graduates get jobs as bookkeeping clerks, accountants, and financial managers in government and in the industries mentioned above. As discussed below, BLS job projections indicate dramatic growth in Utah accounting-related professions, including accountants and auditors, cost estimators, and personal financial advisors. See below for additional Utah employment trends and salary data.

Select Accounting Careers in Utah


  • Cost Estimators

    Often employed in manufacturing or construction companies, these professionals estimate the costs involved in prospective projects, services, and products. In collaboration with company managers, sales teams, and clients, cost estimators create and adjust estimates. Most cost estimators hold a related bachelor’s degree in accounting or engineering.

    Job Outlook in Utah: +28% (2018-28)

    Learn More


  • Personal Financial Advisors

    Using expertise in diverse financial topics such as investments, insurance, and real estate, these professionals counsel clients regarding financial decisions and planning. Examining clients’ assets, goals, and liabilities, financial advisors may suggest buying or selling of assets or insurance. Financial advisors often hold bachelor’s or master’s degrees in financial accounting or planning.

    Job Outlook in Utah: +32.2% (2018-28)

    Learn More


  • Accountants and Auditors

    These professionals organize, examine, and prepare financial records, usually including tax-related forms. Some accountants also analyze business operations and may suggest efficiency-enhancing strategies. Auditors review financial systems and documents to ensure accuracy and compliance with regulations and laws. Accountants and auditors typically hold master’s degrees in accounting or auditing.

    Job Outlook in Utah: +31% (2018-28)

    Learn More


Utah Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

11,470 Employees2018
15,040 Employees2028
Utah 31.1% increase
1,424,000 Employees2018
1,514,700 Employees2028
National 6.4% increase

Source: Projections Central

EXPLORE MORE CAREERS HERE

The BLS data above indicates that the most common Utah accounting-related careers include bookkeeping clerk, auditing clerk, accountant, and auditor. Clerking positions typically require accounting-related associate degrees, while accountants and auditors usually hold master’s degrees or 120-hour bachelor’s degrees plus 30 additional credits. According to the BLS, Utah employs 7,940 financial managers, who earn a mean annual wage of $113,000, the most lucrative position of those listed above.

Most of the salary averages listed above fall below national averages for their respective professions. Tax collectors or examiners and financial managers, in particular, often earn more elsewhere. However, cost estimators and personal financial advisors do well in Utah. Accounting programs offering concentrations in cost accounting or financial planning can benefit students interested in these career paths.

Utah Requirements for Certified Public Accountants

Since each state determines its own CPA requirements, prospective Utah CPAs should familiarize themselves with the following state requirements:

  • Social Security Number: Utah CPAs do not need to be U.S. citizens or Utah residents, but they do need Social Security numbers.
  • CPA Exam: Utah CPAs pass the CPA examination, administered by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). To register for this exam, prospective test-takers must demonstrate completion of 120 college-level education credits.
  • Ethics Exam: To obtain initial licensure, Utah CPA candidates must pass the AICPA’s professional ethics exam.
  • Experience Hours: Utah CPAs must boast at least one year of professional experience relevant to the auditing or accounting skills and principles applied by CPAs.
  • Education: CPA candidates require bachelor’s degrees, plus additional coursework to accumulate the necessary 150 credit hours for CPA licensure. Bachelor’s degree-holders require at least 30 relevant semester hours, including 16 hours in upper-level accounting and eight hours in graduate-level accounting. Topics covered must include auditing, accounting, management accounting, and taxation. Graduate degree-holders need just 24 relevant credits, including 15 graduate-level credits in auditing, financial accounting, management accounting, and taxation.

THE CPA EXAM

HAVING A CAREER AS A CPA

RESOURCES

Frequently Asked Questions


  • Is accounting a good career in Utah?


    Due in part to its expanding economy, Utah offers many high-paying, fast-growing accounting careers for accounting program graduates. See above to learn more about these careers

  • How much do accountants earn in Utah?

    Utah’s accounting-related careers pay well, particularly in relation to the state’s affordable cost of living. Personal financial advisors and cost estimators actually earn above-average salaries in this state, according to the BLS.


  • What accounting jobs are there in Utah?

    According to BLS projections data for 2018-28, rapidly growing Utah accounting jobs include accountant, auditor, cost estimator, and personal financial advisor.


  • Can I get an accounting degree in Utah?

    Utah contains a few top-ranking accounting schools with multiple degree programs available. Degree levels include associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D.


  • Does Utah have online accounting programs?


    A popular option in Utah, distance learning options exist at several good accounting schools in this state. Consult the list below to determine which Utah schools feature online program options.

Utah Accounting and Education Organizations

  • Utah Association of CPAs
    A nonprofit association for professionals in public accounting, business, government, and education, the UACPA boasts about 3,000 members. The UACPA provides education, networking, leadership and volunteer opportunities, and advocacy.
  • Utah Board of Accountancy
    Part of the Utah Department of Commerce’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, Utah’s accountancy board provides examination and licensing information and grants licensure to qualifying candidates.
  • American Women’s Society of Certified Public Accountants of Utah
    Founded in 1933, this trade group for women CPAs offers education, networking, information, and publications.
  • Utah Association of Government Accountants
    Organized in 1989, the AGA’s Northern Utah Chapter serves accounting and finance professionals in government, academia, and industry. UAGA offers training, conferences, job sites, and information.
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